One Year After Local United Way Merger
SACRAMENTO (9/22/20) – United Way California Capital Region is calling its merger with Woodland United Way a success after its first year, citing expanded programming and a larger presence in the area. The merger took place after a year of exploration, community meetings and preparation, with both groups’ boards of directors unanimously approving the merger in June 2019.
“This has been a win-win for both our region and Yolo County,” said Stephanie Bray, president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region. “Yolo County plays an important role in our capital region, and by merging with Woodland United Way, we have been able to expand our resources to work toward our shared goal of ending poverty by increasing the number of kids who graduate from high school prepared for success in college or career. Together, we are seeing more kids with the resources they need to succeed, both in Yolo County and across the region.”
With the onset of the pandemic and stay-at-home order, some Yolo County United Way programs saw a drop in attendance, but two expanded exponentially. The Woodland Kids Read and Dream event that served 352 students last year was able to serve more than 10,000 students in May by going virtual. In addition, the books normally handed out at the event increased from 989 last year to 6,500 delivered this year. Instead of United Way’s annual KinderCamp for kids going into kindergarten who have not enrolled in preschool, staff and volunteers distributed Kinder Kits with school supplies, resources and more. Last year, 65 kids attended the camp – this year 650 kids received Kinder Kits.
United Way’s regional COVID-19 Local Relief Fund dispersed $107,500 to 215 families in need in Yolo County from April-June through a one-time $500 distribution to each family to help offset costs of rent, bills and other basic needs. United Way worked with Empower Yolo, RISE Inc. and Yolo County Children’s Alliance to identify low-income families in the county whose lives were disrupted by the pandemic and ensure they received the help they needed.
United Way is working to connect Woodland Joint Unified School District with its new virtual tutoring program this fall and has funded the Yolo County Children’s Alliance $120,000 to help at-risk households in Yolo County address housing and financial instability. United Way also is working to expand the number of Yolo County households served through its Free Tax Prep program, partnering with Yolo County Children’s Alliance and Empower Yolo.
United Way has increased its presence in Yolo County, a key goal of the merger. United Way staff held 27 listening sessions to hear from local residents on the issues that mattered most to them and their community, and the findings will be released as a report to the community early next year. United Way also created the Woodland Community Advisory Committee to monitor the new organization’s efforts and provide recommendations on programs, communications and donor relations – the committee has grown to 11 volunteers. United Way’s board of directors now includes three members from Woodland, and United Way maintains its Woodland office where its Yolo County director, former Woodland United Way executive director, Lori Ross will continue to work once the stay-at-home order is lifted.
“I could not be prouder of these two organizations that have merged almost seamlessly for the greater good of the families in our county and our region,” said Ruth Miller, chair of the Woodland Community Advisory Committee, Woodland resident, former Woodland United Way board member and longtime United Way California Capital Region board member. “We are seeing the incredible result of two organizations combining their resources to most efficiently meet the needs of local families and ensure our kids are ready to succeed.”
For nearly 100 years, United Way California Capital Region has brought local people together to make community change happen. Today, the nonprofit is bringing people together across Amador, El Dorado, Sacramento, Placer and Yolo counties for its Square One Project, a 20-year promise to significantly increase the number of students in our region who graduate from high school ready for success in college and beyond. United Way believes ending poverty starts in school and is working to ensure kids meet important milestones and their families receive support and resources.
To learn more and make a donation: YourLocalUnitedWay.org.